Horror Review: The Best Horror of the Year Volume Seven by Ellen Datlow

Ellen Datlow is probably one of the hardest working editors in speculative fiction. She was responsible for a whopping 21 volumes of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (from 1988 through 2008), and when that series came to end she launched The Best Horror of the Year, which hit bookshelves this year with Volume Seven.

Even if you only dabble in the stories, her Summation of the year is always required reading. She recaps the genre awards, and offers her exhaustive thoughts on the most notable novels, anthologies, collections, magazine,webzines, and other odds-and-ends from throughout the year. If you're ever stuck for good horror to rear, that Summation is where you begin.

Of the 22 stories she has selected, ranging in length from 2,500 to 10,000 words, there are 5 that I feel compelled to call out as required reading.

The Culvert by Dale Bailey is a short novel, taking place long after the horrific event in question. It's a tale of diverging paths, of twin souls and bodies, that leaves you with the unsettling question of where one went and just which one survived.

the worms crawl in by Laird Barron starts out as your typical tale of a cuckolded husband plotting revenge, segues into the predictable double-cross, and then gets really interesting when he claws his way out of the grave. It's a story of monsters born and monsters made, that makes you wonder where the true evil begins.

Persistence of Vision by Orrin Grey is one of the two Canadian entries in the collection, with a self-aware sort of narrative structure that immediately draws you in. From one of the most intriguing openings I've ever come across, to one of the saddest closings, it's a melancholy tale of a ghostly apocalypse.

Departures by Carole Johnstone immediately distinguishes itself with the unusual setting of an airport departure lounge, teases us with the promise of terror within a pair of feet, and then just gets creepier and more unsettling from there.

Nigredo by Cody Goodfellow is the story of a 'exit counselor', the kind of man who helps families rescue their loved ones from cults, and the militant bibliomancy cult, Ex Libris. Perhaps the smartest, more cerebral thriller in the bunch, it's written to draw readers in.

Most of the stories contained within Volume Seven are what I would call post-modern horror, dealing more with thoughts and emotions than blood and guts, so there are bound to be some readers who question the makeup here. As much as I still prefer the brutal, bloody, blasphemous books with which I grew up, there were still enough solid scares here to make it worth reading.

Paperback, 369 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Night Shade Books

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration.This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my honest review.


  1. Ellen really knows - and loves - her horror then.
    The five you describe are all rather intriguing.


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